Cave explorer John Jones tragically died in Nutty Putty’s cave. He got stuck in the narrow passage of the cave and could not get out. His agony lasted 26 hours.
John Jones and his brother Josh Jones are from a Mormon family. John’s father often took the children to the caves and Jones was interested in caving.
On that day, 26-year-old John Jones and his brother decided to visit Nutty Putty Cave, USA, Utah.
Nutty Putty Cave
Natti Patti Hydrothermal Cave was discovered in 1960 by caver Dale Green and is a system of narrow passages just over 400 meters (1355ft) long and up to 44 meters (145ft) deep.
The cave was named Nutty Putty because of the large amount of brown clay that looks like putty or nut paste.
From 1999 to 2004, there were six cases of people getting seriously stuck and trapped in various bottlenecks in the cave. Due to frequent accidents involving cavers getting stuck in narrow places, the cave was closed from 2006 until 2009. However, in that year the cave was opened to the public. This was decided to take advantage of a team of cavers, which included John and his brother Josh.
John had a lot of experience in speleology, but he made all his visits to the caves in his teens. This, in the end, will play a fatal role in subsequent tragic events.
On November 24, 2009, at about 8 pm, the brothers in the company of 9 more satellites descended to Nutty Putty.
Everything went well for about an hour. A group of speleologists explored the largest grotto in the cave, aptly named ‘Big Slide’.
Soon, John, Josh and two of their friends decided to go through the difficult narrow passage of the ‘Birth Canal’ which ended in a spacious grotto.
John went first. What happened next is not entirely clear. Probably John, instead of following the beaten path, mistakenly turned into another narrow passage.
The tunnel curved to the right and John did not see what was waiting for him around the bend. He probably saw some kind of expansion of the passage and decided that in front of him was the same final grotto. John slid down and realized he was wrong.
The little-explored passage ended in a dead end and John got stuck upside down with his hand pressed along the body in a narrow passage of approximately 25×45 cm (10×18 inches).
John called out to his brother Josh, who was crawling after him, that he was stuck. Josh tried to pull his brother up by the ankles, but all efforts were in vain.
Josh was stuck in a narrow passage at a depth of 30 meters.
Josh climbed as quickly as he could to the surface of his friend lying next to John. He called the rescue service.
Quickly, who responded to the call for help is local volunteer lifeguard Susan.
Susan arrived at the scene around midnight. Little and nimble Susan quickly went down to John:
-Hi John, my name is Susie. How are you?
-Hi Susie, thanks for coming, – John said, – but I really, really want to leave.
Within hours, dozens of rescuers arrived at the scene. Options for rescuing John were discussed.
The task was complicated by the fact that only one person could work in a narrow passage, whose strength was not enough to pull a 90-kilogram (200 ft) man out of a death trap.
It was decided to make a system of blocks and chain hoists, hanging them from the rock. One end of the rope was tied around John’s legs, and at the other end the rescuers could pull the rope. Then the rescuers could alternate sequentially at a narrow pace and distribute the consumption.
At the same time, they also tried to drill into chunks of rock near John, but the hard material and awkward position made drilling a slow and useless job. In an hour, they managed to drill only a few centimeters of rock.
Rescuers managed to hold a communication line to John and he was able to talk to his wife, who at that time was on the surface.
By this time, 19 hours had passed since John was trapped.
Finally, the rescuers managed to fix the system with which they wanted to pull John out of the trap.
8 people pulled the rope at the same time lifting John higher and higher. It was quite painful for John and the rescuers had to pause in their work.
For the third time, the rescuers managed to pull John up enough that the nearest rescuer could see his face.
He had red eyes from being upside down for a long time and a dirty face, but he smiled:
-How are you? the lifeguard asked.
-It sucks. I’m upside down. Can’t believe I’m upside down. My legs are killing me,” John replied.
When John was pulled for the fourth time, the rope suddenly loosened, the rescuers fell, and the rescuer closest to John received a blow to the head and lost consciousness for a second.
As the dust settled, he saw that the stone arch near John’s feet with the nearest block had collapsed, and John had slipped even deeper into the crevice.
The lifeguard suffered a facial injury and was forced to give way to a colleague.
Another rescuer saw that John’s breathing had become dangerous, but he himself did not respond.
the rescuer decided to descend and tie a rope around John’s waist, but got himself stuck.
With difficulty getting out of the narrow hole, the rescuer secured a new block over John’s legs.
By this time, John showed no signs of life.
A medic descended into the cave diagnosed the death of John Jones on November 25, 2009, 26 hours after the start of the rescue operation.
He was 26 years old and left behind a pregnant wife and child.
It was not clear what to do with John’s body. The authorities decided that it was too dangerous to get the body out and, in agreement with the relatives, it was decided to bury the body on the spot.
To do this, the entrance to a narrow hole was blown up with explosives, the entrance to the Nutty Putty cave was filled with concrete, to the great displeasure of other cavers.
Near the cave is a commemorative plaque with the name of John Edwards Jones.
Utah State Rescuers worked to save John for over 27 hours. 137 rescuers were involved in the operation to rescue the caver.
Later they admitted that it was the most difficult operation to save a person.
This is a unique case in speleology when a person got stuck in an underground labyrinth and could not get out.
As a rule, such incidents end with the happy extraction of the unlucky caver from the embrace of the cave.
A special role here was played by the fact that John Jones easily overcame such obstacles as a slender teenager, but his complexion did not allow him to do such a trick in adulthood.
Shortly after the incident, the feature film ‘The Last Descent’ was made based on these dramatic events.